The Incarnational Christ of Christmas

Today I was talking with a friend who is currently without a home. He told me that he is never comfortable going to meet people in unfamiliar places. He continued to say that he is much more comfortable with people coming to places that he frequents and into places that he is comfortable with. I can relate, I would much rather spend the night at home, or in familiar territory, than to strike out into a place that is unfamiliar. I am more comfortable when people come into my space.

Reflecting on this, I was moved afresh in celebration of Christmas this week of what Jesus has done for me. He knows that I am comfortable in my sin. He knows that I wouldn’t want Him or desire Him apart from His pursuit of me. He left the comfort of His home to come into my space.

As I was talking with my friend, another group came up and began talking with us. One of the men asked my friend, “have you been good?”. That is where we can all go, and that is what the naughty-or-nice-checking-his-list-twice Christmas has taught us. That is what every religion tries to teach us: “Be good.” But Christ came, knowing that we can’t be good, all the time, in every way. He came to place His Spirit in us, to place His righteousness in us. He came into our space. He is knocking at the door of our hearts, asking to be let in (Rev. 3:20).

That is Christmas. The incarnational Christ, coming to earth, because God so loved the world (John 3:16). I grew up hearing about a different Jesus. I heard the decree to “be good”. However, the command to “be good” is like putting the cart before the horse. In my twenties, I met others who came into my space, they told me about a Jesus that didn’t want my good works, but a Jesus that wanted to do a good work in me. A Jesus who wanted to breath true life in me, to live life as it is truly meant to be lived. Jesus pulls the cart…Jesus made the cart!

This Christmas don’t settle for the naughty-or-nice-checking-his-list-twice Jesus. This Christmas celebrate Jesus – God who took on the form of man (Phil. 2:5-11). Celebrate and give thanks to God who came into our space. Ladies, gospel yourselves this Christmas – Jesus came into the world so that we could flourish in life now, and so that we would even have the desire for a better, lasting home, as well as the way to get there (John 14:6-7). This Christmas, and everyday, Christ’s Spirit in us now compels us to go out into the world. His Spirit in us compels us out of our place of comfort (just as He did for us) into other people’s spaces, as ambassadors of this gospel.

Truth: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’” ~ John 14:6-7

Returning and Rest

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling…” Isaiah 30:15

Recently I was able to get away and take a few days of reflection over this last year. While I wish I could say that I waxed spiritually eloquent reflections the whole time, I will say I that I did conquer 3 pints of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. But all in all it was a great time to take in a birds eye view of this last year – the triumphs and the struggles. In looking back over 2013, one thing that really struck home was that God taught me a deeper meaning of rest in Him. In this last year, a few months in the hospital and several more of recovery showed me that He is in control, therefore I can rest in Him knowing that He takes care of family, friends and ministry.

I enter into this new year with new desires and goals, and even in those I find rest. I am reminded to make every day about resting in Jesus – loving Him and others, as He loved me, and growing as His disciple. I can easily let my love for Jesus get choked out by what I have to do each day, but the sum of my days when I stand before God will not sparkle with man made accomplishments. Rather cascades of brilliant glory beyond my current sight or understanding will emanate from a life given to faith in Jesus Christ, resting in my identity as God’s child and co-heir with Jesus, and participating in His grand story, for His glory and the service of others.

In this new year we can all be tempted to rush ahead, putting our trust in our plans and resolutions; relying on our own strength. This is where we need the reminder to return – repenting of trying to do things on our own, and rest in Jesus, right here at the beginning of a new year, and every morning for that matter. Let the plans of the year be laid on the solid foundation of trust and devotion in the One in whom we find life and strength. 

We will dream, we will build, and we will overcome, but not by our own strength. Christian sister, start each day by gospeling yourself. Tell yourself the good news that the victory is not out there, it is in returning. The victory is not in your strength and power, it is found in quietness and trust in Jesus. It is this quietness and trust that will be your strength. What is important today is not how well you will do at work on its own, it is how your rest and trust in Jesus will pour into your work. What is important today is not how well you love your family, it is how your rest and trust in Jesus will pour into loving your family. What will be important at the end of this year is not how well your plans worked out, but it is how your rest and trust in Jesus will pour into the makings of a year that will truly be worth celebrating – because in returning and rest, God worked through you to build a legacy on the True Foundation (1 Cor. 3:10-15). Make the important thing the important thing. I hope it is not said of me or you “but we were unwilling” to return and rest.

Truth:Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28